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The contractions started getting serious at around 10pm the night before, and by 4am they'd been going steadily at 5 minutes apart for a while, so we decided to head into the hospital. By the time we arrived, they'd all but stopped, and the midwife we saw ended up being (thankfully unlike all the other staff we'd met at the hospital so far) a bit of a cow and ignored everything we told her about the hours of contractions before we arrived, and decided that since Jacqui didn't have any real contractions while we were at the hospital that she couldn't possibly be in labour, and so sent us home (after a fairly lengthy condescending lecture about, well, the whole birth thing really). The biggest problem with this was its effect on Jacqui's state of mind; I can only imagine what it must be like to be in the middle of labour, and have someone tell you that it's only pre-labour, it could go on for days, and it's going to get a whole lot worse (and she even suggested that we go home and get some sleep to rest up for when labour really started... can you imagine sleeping through labour). Thankfully, that midwife was completely wrong.
As soon as we arrived home again the contractions came on full strength (they had said during the ante-natal classes that being in a comfortable environment helps labour along, so it didn't surprise me a whole lot that it stopped when we got to the hospital and started again when we got home, but then at the time you tend to trust the professional slightly more than your own instincts, especially when you're tired and worried and everything else is going on). After about another hour and a half at home with the contractions getting steadily stronger I realised that Jacqui probably wouldn't be able to make the car trip to the hospital if we waited much longer, so off we went again, arriving at the hospital at around 8am. Jacqui made it as far as the far side of the foyer when Stage 2 (the push/don't push part) of labour started, and a whole lot of worried staff went rush around all over the place to find a wheelchair. A very intense hour later, our daughter arrived.
For the enormity of the event, saying only "a very intense hour later" in no way does it justice, but I can't really figure out what else to say. Jacqui was absolutely amazing, and has been doing an amazing job ever since. The midwife we got was thankfully different to the one we'd seen earlier in the morning, and was quite shocked by our earlier treatment (like the suggestion that the pain may have been caused by a urinary tract infection, not by the more obvious cause that maybe a baby was trying to get out). We did see that midwife from 4am later in our stay, and she seemed quite sheepish around us, I suspect maybe she got a talking to (at least I hope she did).
So now we have a gorgeous little bundle of joy that eats, soils nappies, cries, and very occasionally sleeps driving us both spare. But when she's not crying she's very cute, and very alert and makes funny noises and smells good and is soo tiny. And she has my toes.